For the first time ever The Ocean Race lands in Italy, transforming Genoa into the Ocean capital
“There are three great things in this world: the oceans, the mountains, and a busy person."
At sea, out in the ocean, you learn to face each challenge as it arises, ready to tackle what nature sends your way by doing the best you can. Waves, storms, calms, gales, but also conditions and situations that fill your heart, your throat, your eyes, your ears. Those who go out to sea have come to know these sensations; those who sail out in the Ocean know them too, albeit more amplified. SLAM has once again jumped on board with those who thrive in situations that are as extreme as they are magical and unforgettable.
The Ocean is a dream for so many people, and ocean racing helps bring that dream a little bit closer, while being aided by modern technology that makes it possible to experience what is happening on the other side of the planet in real time. In recent months, we have been given the amazing opportunity to experience the Ocean, to which even our own Mediterranean is connected via the neighbouring Atlantic, thanks to The Ocean Race and the Ocean Race VO65 Sprint, the iconic round-the-world crewed challenges, with the seventh and final leg battled out from The Hague to Genoa. The incredible round-the-world race will reach its finish line in Italy for the first time ever. This, however, is not the only world-first to take place: there will also be an Austro-Italian boat racing in the Ocean Race’s "Sprint" version, with the Austrian Ocean Racing - Team Genoa line-up featuring skipper Gerwin Jansen, and - among the international crew on board - four Italian names: Andrea Pendibene, Claudia Rossi, Cecilia Zorzi and SLAM, proudly flying the flag for Genoa, the city in which the company was founded!
As sailors we are among the first charged with taking care of our seas and lakes, as citizens we have a duty to provide the foresight of those who know that there is no spare planet to fall back on
“Out here in the Ocean, one thing that has stayed with me more than any other, whether on the first leg to Cape Verde or during these days sailing from The Hague to Genoa, is the unstable conditions, with the cold air bringing with it such an incredibly clear, deep blue sky, dotted with cumulus clouds as far as the eye can see, super-saturated colours and such clean air; you are surrounded by this landscape that never fails to leave you speechless. It is one of the most treasured memories I carry with me. Fiery sunrises and sunsets, visible in… 4K resolution, are a stunning sight to behold”.
“Being here and facing everything that nature sends our way - whether it’s like these days with calmer conditions, but still nerve-wracking because of the lack of wind, or like on the first leg with bucket loads of water - really gives you a sense of Self Confidence, you feel a sort of energy that comes from understanding the value we have and that we take back with us when we return to the real world”
Sensations from Cecilia Zorzi during the seventh and final leg
A window into the Ocean with Cecilia Zorzi
The Pacific’s icy winds entering San Francisco Bay have brought Cecilia Zorzi good fortune and seem to have paved the way since her first World Championship title in the Laser 4.7 category in San Francisco (2011) to chase that crisp Ocean air, an air that instead warms Cecilia's heart. Her story, her emotions, her dreams, gliding from one new challenge to another:
From closed waters such as Lake Garda and the Mediterranean to the Ocean’s horizons. Why the change of course towards offshore sailing?
CZ: The change of course came at a time when there was talk of a new Olympic class for Paris 2024 dedicated to offshore mixed doubles and I was still set on trying for another Olympic campaign (an idea started in 2019 with the L30 but was eventually sunk by the IOC's final decision in 2021). I had the opportunity to sail in the Figaro with Alberto Bona, in what felt like an Olympic campaign, and that’s how I discovered offshore sailing. In fact, I just fell in love with this way of experiencing regattas and sailing; he already had a lot of experience so he gave me my first lessons in ocean sailing. It all started from there.
Did Francesca Clapcich's participation in the previous Ocean Race influence your choice? Have you ever interacted?
CZ: Francesca's taking part was certainly an influence, but really more in retrospect, because when she took part in The Ocean Race I was still focused on dinghies. We got together at the Solitaire du Figaro during that season which she also took part in. She had definitely set a great example as she had already done in her dinghy days (2012 London Olympics and the 49er FX in Rio 2016). We have followed a very similar path, from Lasers, to the 49FX, to offshore racing and The Ocean Race, with a focus on small crew racing. So, she was and remains an important source of inspiration: we saw each other of course in Alicante for the start of The Ocean Race and here in The Hague at the start of the final leg; she also gave us a great deal of advice, because she already knew the VO65s having already completed a round: she was incredibly helpful and supportive!
After paired racing in dinghies and offshore, you found yourself at The Ocean Race in a crew: was this a difficult transition?
CZ: Personally, I prefer sailing solo or as a pair, which can be seen in my 'Cecilia in Oceano' project for the 2025 Mini Transat. Crew sailing brings with it a lot of positives, but it also means a lot of challenges: it’s not easy to find one's place from a technical point of view, but also from a very human standpoint; the dynamics on board are a delicate thing even in an international crew, with the language being an obstacle in part, but also as in terms of one’s own mentality, which everyone has. It's not easy, but the good thing is that we all have the same goal, so we all work towards it.
When you return ashore, do you not miss the emotions that come from being out on the Ocean?
CZ: When we are ashore, we just enjoy everything else: the comforts, the family, and so really the memory of those breathtaking moments is enough of a good feeling. But I have to admit that after a few days ashore I get a bit impatient and there is always an immediate urge to go again; but it's a balance between the two, so it works very well to alternate ocean and land!
From 10th to 20th August, Scheveningen will see the world’s top Olympic athletes competing in the Sailing World Championship to earn their countries a place in the Paris 2024 Olympics
During the Nacra 17 team's training sessions in Scheveningen at the end of July, we had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Caterina Banti, an example of what it means to be an all-round athlete and champion. She explained how multi-disciplinarity is essential for developing sportsmanship and personal growth when it comes to young sailors, leading them to aspire to seemingly distant goals. She boarded her first sailing boat at the age of 16 and then approached the world of competitive sailing, achieving nothing less than the Olympics, demonstrating that the path to the peak of success can begin even without such an early introduction into a specific sport, where a child is taught to do nothing else from the age of 6, but with an encouraged passion for sports in general since childhood.